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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 01 December 2017 > The Andy Kaufman Show

The Andy Kaufman Show

Jim Carrey has a new documentary about playing the performance artist. I watched it with Kaufman’s brother and sister. It was surreal

MOVIES

ROPE A DOPE Kaufman took performance art to extremes, disappearing into characters like the “Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World.”
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MICHAEL PUTLAND/GETTY

HALLELUJAH! A fitting tribute to Leonard Cohen

IT’S HARD TO DESCRIBE THE EXPERIENCE of talking to your dead brother through Jim Carrey’s body. Carol Kaufman-Kerman tries anyway. It was 1998. She had flown to Los Angeles, where filmmaker Milos Forman was shooting a biopic about her famous big brother. The movie was Man on the Moon. The deceased brother was Andy Kaufman, the enigmatic performance artist who had died from cancer in 1984. And the star who greeted her was Carrey—or was it Andy? His ghost?

Those lines seemed blurred: Carrey was spending the entire film shoot in character. Or, rather, in characters, since he vacillated between Kaufman and Kaufman’s favorite alter egos, including the obnoxious lounge singer Tony Clifton. When he spotted the star’s real-life sister, he greeted her jovially, the way Kaufman might have: “Hey, Carol! Over here!” Carrey-as-Kaufman asked if she wanted a milkshake. It was eerie. This was her brother.

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